Elektron Machinedrum SPS-1
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Elektron Machinedrum SPS-1

Machinedrum SPS-1, Schlagzeugmaschine from Elektron in the Machinedrum series.

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FP User 01/11/2008

Elektron Machinedrum SPS-1: Produktbewertung von FP User (content in English)

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The Machinedrum is 16 multitimbral. There are 16 tracks that form a Pattern. Each track can use a single 'machine'. Configurations of these machines form a Kit. Kits are saved independently of Patterns. Patterns need not be saved as they are 'hot' in the sense that when changes are made, such as adding new steps or making a pattern lock, they are entered real-time. For this reason it is often a good idea to copy and paste your kits as your work on them. The pads are not velocity sensitive. Some people think this isn't good, but it is suitable to the functions of the Machinedrum. Creating volume and timbral changes is what Accent and the Parameter Locks are for. If you want live synthetic drums you can hook up a drum-pad to the Machinedrum. The OS can be updated through MIDI. Many new functional features have been incorporated into the Machinedrum since its inception. Even new machines have been added or improved. It has MIDI in/out/thru. Live performers will be happy to note that the Machinedrum will control external synths sending up to 3 individual notes per step. This is made possible by the MID machine - a great feature for programming basses, leads, and stabs that are in "groove" with the Machinedrum's precise MIDI timing and programmable Shuffles. Routing capabilities for the Machinedrum are flexible. A single sound could be bussed out of an individual output, back into an input, filtered and modulated, then sent out again out of another individual output. Such patching ability will allow you to set up your own insert FX send and return. The main stereo outputs can be configured to act as individual. The ability to define 8 Global settings will allow you to quickly load different sync, MIDI, and control maps for different environments. The kind programmers at Elektron knew you would be taking the Machinedrum on the road and to all your friends studios. It's packed with features and now with improvements. Elektron have listened to their fanatical fanbase and have incorporated requests (such as the ability to change a pattern on the fly with one hand so your other hand can still tweak parameters).

Price paid

$1100 USD

UTILIZATION

OS v1.12 I've owned the Machinedrum for a few months now. It is by far the most user-friendly piece of kit I have ever owned. All menus and knob controls are well integrated and are easy to access. The Machinedrum has two modes of operation - Classic and Extended. In Classic mode the sequencer merely triggers corresponding sounds from various kits. I use Extended, which allows for control changes and pattern locks to be implemented. The Sequencer is straight forward and can be used in Step mode, or Real-time record. The best thing is you can record and save on the fly. The Machinedrum is always "live"! Editing patches is simple and musical. Once you have constructed a general kit sound and have saved it (to one of the 64 kit banks) you can then proceed to use the Machinedrum's Pattern Lock feature to sculpt individual steps, radically changing the sounds in the process. The manual is good and is recommended to read to understand some of the finer points. For instance, when the Rec button is active and you use Function-Copy it will copy parameters from your active menu (LFO settings, machine, kit, etc) or will copy a single track (including the machine assigned to it and all the parameter locks) if there isn't an active menu. Other things are intuitively figured out on your own (for instance copying a single track in Classic mode, pasting it, then switching back to Extended will only copy the steps and not the machine or parameter locks). I have used complicated and powerful interfaces before (FS1R, ASR10) and simple ones (Roland-groove series). I appreciate a well designed OS and the Machinedrum is among the best. It will never get in the way of your music making, rather it will enhance it.

When I first recieved my Machinedrum, there was some "bleeding" on the main output (and headphone output). I returned the Machinedrum to Elektron and it was promptly fixed. It has only crashed once, and that seems to be a very rare occurence among Machinedrums indeed (I was trying to copy a Global setting, an unlikely procedure). As the OS is updated I'm positive that any remaining bugs will be ironed out. It is built very well. Brushed aluminum with a good weight to it. The Knobs are plastic, too bad they aren't metal. The Machinedrum could be used as a defensive weapon to ward off mesmorized rave kidz if the need arises.

SOUNDS

Well this part I could go on forever about. Simply put I feel that this a very responsive percussion synthesizer. The sounds that the Machinedrum can make are constantly being discovered. In the right hands, the Machinedrum can create moving melodic and textured rhythms that are not typical of static samples. If Kraftwerk's ManMachine exists - this is it. Funky-robo beats at their finest! The synthesis consists of 4 primary synthesis types: TRX - analog emulation EFM - frequency modulation E12 - samples in memory (do not be fooled, these samples are fodder for sample start, retriggers, and LFO modulation) PI - Physically informed synthesis for acoustic sounds. Also: GND - provides SIN, pulse and noise waves MID - for external MIDI control. The Machinedrum has good EQ and filter FX. The Reverb effect isn't a Lexicon but is of decent quality and has charisma. Unfortunately, I find the distortion a bit weak though it remains effective on bassdrums and basslines. Some of the machines (such as the new 909-ish Bassdrum 2 from the TRX synth) has it's own distortion parameters that are more effective. The ADCs and DACs are absolutely pristine. They are "prosumer" grade, Crystal 24 bit 96kHz in an analogue subsystem. Low crosstalk Burr&Brown amplifiers. Most synths do not have this level of fidelity. There is no option for digital or S/PDIF out but isn't missed. The Machinedrum is essential for all electronic music genres and well suited for experimental music of any genre. Even with real-world percussion the Machinedrum is at home.

OVERALL OPINION

The Machinedrum is hooked up intravenously via a MIDI cord to my cerebral cortex. I would die if it were stolen! I wish it had sampling and even higher step resolution. Before I had the Machinedrum I fiddled with soft-samplers trying to get the right percussion sound. I love samplers but the Machinedrum has such a great interface and character that it begs you to play it. I have a modified camera case with room to pack a lunch that I store it in. I bought it instead of a laptop as I realized at the end of the day, sometimes I just want to hammer out a good groove and have fun. Highly recommended.

Originally posted on FutureProducers.com
Posted by: Unknown (January 1-, 2002)